Richmond Premier’s hero Marlion Pickett says second flag in 20 games would be the ultimate validation after football’s toughest season
Pickett, 28, revealed he had practically quit social media this year after a series of derogatory messages about his place on the team began to affect him mentally
Tigers 2019 fairy tale story strives to add a second Grand Final victory to its name after sensationalizing its AFL debut in last year’s decision maker
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He has played 18 more games this season, with his stoic and « rock » partner Jess and their young family joining him in the Queensland squad hub.
But it wasn’t all easy, with family grief – including the funeral for her uncle, Mark, on the day of Richmond’s final qualifying loss to Brisbane – and personal struggles throughout the year as ‘he was transitioning from the final sensation to the Richmond outfit
« There has been a lot of criticism on social media, web pages and the like, » Pickett told the Herald Sun
« I wasn’t really a fan of that, but I’m trying to stay out now, because I’m just playing my part in the team system Outside of the footy club people don’t know what our role is
« People who wish you were abandoned get messages saying, ‘I hope you tell the coaches you’re not playing’ because you had a bad game
« I talk to people to help me get through this, and they advise me to stay away from social media and not read any of it. But it’s a little hard when you have people messaging you, some Richmond fans and all that, but that’s what it is. »
Pickett’s struggles were highlighted earlier this year when it was reported he was on a sophomore rookie salary at a time when the players agreed to take a 50% pay cut to help save gambling during the COVID-19 crisis
Pickett, a proud man from Noongar, spends time with his children in the hub « and keeps me busy, trying not to spend too much time on the phone »
He said the playgroup met after teammate Dylan Grimes and family were threatened during the year – an attack Victoria Police acted on
« Listening to the time (of Grimes) going through a similar thing, it made me want to listen to them, » he said.
Pickett also said he almost booked flights back to Perth with his family on the eve of the series finale
His father, Thomas, who is battling lung disease, has been in and out of hospital in recent months and was released from care on Monday during his last battle with the disease
But it was a call from his father that convinced Pickett – who attended his father’s brother’s funeral via Zoom – to keep his second prime minister’s dream alive.
“I almost left the hub to go back and stay with my family in Perth,” the Tiger said
« Family is Family Footy is a job But family is the most important thing, not1 in my life
“I was ready to book my flight, but I spoke to my dad and he was fine and he told me to stay there If it wasn’t for him and that phone call then I would have probably been back to perth
Pickett said his father – whose first plane trip was to Melbourne for last year’s grand final – would look « 100% » on Saturday
« He calls me before and after the game and always lets me know he’s really proud of me and how far we’ve come, » he said.
Pickett and his family will return to Perth immediately after Saturday night’s grand finale at the Gabba
Having moved to Thornbury ahead of the AFL season’s upheaval, Pickett joked that he could return to the ‘jungle’ in the backyard upon his return to Melbourne.
« By being away from home for 100 days and something like that, you just want to win, hopefully, » he said.
« But if not, at least we know that we’ve overcome adversity throughout the year and got to where we wanted to be. Playing in another granny is a very good thing Few people get there and play it, so it’s a good achievement »
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